Tooele Transcript Bulletin – News in Tooele, Utah

August 7, 2014
War vets sought for horse therapy study

A Grantsville woman is looking for war veterans to volunteer for a study about the effects of equine therapy.

Laurie Sakaeda, who runs a program in Grantsville called A Helping Hoof, is working with the University of Utah to conduct a study about the effectiveness of equine-assisted psychotherapy with veterans.

“There are people all over the country who are doing equine therapy, and there’s very little scientific research on it, which means we have a control group and assessment,” she said.

“It makes it harder to get funding and it’s hard to get agencies to believe that it really works, even though there are tons of observational results,” Sakaeda added. “We’re just trying to get more scientific results on the data, specifically with the veterans. There’s some research done with kids and other groups, but not veterans.”

Part of that lack of data could be due to the difficulty of getting veterans to participate in studies, she said, especially with soldiers struggling with post-traumatic stress syndrome.

“One of the biggest issues with PTSD is lack of trust, and the second one is a lot of them just want to stay isolated,” Sakaeda said. “We’re asking them to go against two things that really work, to them, to protect them.”

This study, though, is designed to be relatively low stress, she said, and will be conducted at no cost to the volunteers.

“Mostly, they’d get the benefit of equine-assisted psychotherapy, using these exercises, and a lot of people feel it’s pretty fun,” Sakaeda said.

She added the 10-week study would consist of exercises with horses and short questionnaires about vets’ levels of depression and anxiety, and if they are experiencing flashbacks or nightmares.

Participants must be veterans, but no diagnosis of PTSD or any other mental trauma is needed, she said.

Interested persons can contact Sakaeda at 801-915-5019 or by email at 

Lisa Christensen

Staff Writer at Tooele Transcript Bulletin
Lisa covers primarily crime and courts, military affairs, Stansbury Park government and transportation issues. She is a graduate of Utah State University, where she double-majored in journalism and music, and Grantsville High School.

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